This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Each year, during the last week of February, the National Eating Disorders Association selects a theme to focus on and spread awareness about Eating Disorders. This year the theme is “Come As You Are.” All week they will be highlighting stories that we don’t often hear.
Facts about Eating Disorders
- 30 million Americans will struggle with a full-blown eating disorder
- 50% of 3 – 6 years olds worry about being fat
- Over 50% of females between the ages of 18 & 25 would prefer to be run over by a truck than be fat. Nearly 70% would rather be mean or stupid.
- 80% of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet
- Eating disorder specialists are reporting an increase in the diagnosis of children, some as young as five or six
- A 2007 study found that up to one-third of all eating disorder sufferers are male
- A 2015 study found that transgender students were the group most likely to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder in the past year
Grace Knutson is a Client Wellness Specialist at Your Wellness Connection. She developed an eating disorder in high school and at the intervention of her friends and parents, she got help to recover.
Although everyone’s story and experience with an eating disorder is different, sharing and hearing the stories helps us to eliminate the stigma around an eating disorder. It helps us to understand and have compassion for those around us. It’s a privilege to share have Grace share her story in her own words:
In high school, I dated a guy, and I thought everything was fine. But I started noticing that he would make little comments such as “oh aren’t you going to go to the gym today?” or he would make comments about things I was eating. I found myself slowly starting to…. not only not eat those bad things, I just really didn’t eat very much at all. So I lost a lot of weight.
All my friends were so concerned. And at first I was like: this is ridiculous, I feel judged. I was in total denial. I didn’t want to believe that anything was wrong with me. I had body dysmorphia, so I didn’t realize I was so skinny.
Finally one day my roommate broke down in complete tears in front of me. I think that was when I started to kind of realize that something was wrong. But then it wasn’t until my parents started to cry that I was like wow, this isn’t only affecting me, but it’s affecting the people around me. I’ve got to do something.
So I saw a physician, a nutritionist, and a therapist. I look back, and I don’t think I could have done it with just one of them. And I gained one pound here and one pound there. And I kind of got excited! Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always exciting. Sometimes I looked at the scale and I was like ok, I can’t do this, and I would step back into my old habits.
But it all stemmed from a bad relationship. And I think it’s important to know your self-worth. Before you get into a relationship with someone else, even your friendships. You have to love yourself in order to give your best self to them.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there is help available to you. The National Eating Disorder Association has a helpline staffed with people that you can talk to on the phone or do an online chat with. Their phone number is 800-931-2237.
If you are concerned that a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, there are resources that can help you understand warning signs, understand how to approach them to talk about it, and that can help you set-up the help they may need. The National Eating Disorder Association has a dedicated friends and family network with resources and help.
As Grace said, recovery from an eating disorder is not simple, and she couldn’t have done it without a team of professionals including a medical doctor, nutritionist, and therapist. If you are struggling, gather your team to help you, and don’t forget that the friends and family who are concerned about you are also part of your team.
Promote Body Positivity
Although none of the contributing factors to an eating disorder are simple, we can help ourselves and those around us by promoting body positivity. Instead of focusing on our weight or how our body looks, we can change the conversation about our bodies by focusing on what we love about them. It’s a simple thing, but saying “I love that my legs let me walk everywhere I need to” changes the whole conversation about our bodies and leads us to self-love.